Why Keep a Car Log?

Logging, defined as the act of entering information in a log book, is done by pilots, fleet operators, the military and virtually anyone to whom vehicle performance and dependability are essential.

Maintaining a log book is a good idea for private owners too, who suggest that setting up and maintaining an auto "diary" is a simple procedure. It's a matter of keeping a pencil and note pad handy to record anything of importance about the maintenance and operation of the car or truck.

Essentially there are six types of entries:

Gasoline fill-ups and mileage.

Addition of various fluids such as engine oil, coolant, power steering fluid and at what mileage.

Maintenance services performed: what, when, by whom and how much it cost.

Services performed other than routine maintenance, i.e. body repairs or paint, accessories installed, etc.

Insurance and/or registration information.

Basic part numbers and/or specifications which may not be readily found in the owners manual (belts, hoses, headlamps, spark plugs, filters, etc.)

Most businessmen, whose vehicle expenses are tax deductible, know the importance of maintaining good records. For them and for others there are these additional considerations:

Keeping a running record of gas purchases vs. distance driven will show a decrease in gas mileage, warning of a malfunction or need for tune-up.

A log book will make you aware of abnormal oil or fluid consumption, which could be the tip-off to a leak or other potential problem.

It also serves as a reminder that the vehicle is overdue for an oil and filter change, transmission service or other important maintenance.

When it's time to sell or trade, this kind of documentation can make a substantial difference in the vehicle's saleability. A used car buyer likes to know what maintenance has been done and when.

In case of mechanical trouble, especially with an older vehicle, it may be useful to report to a mechanic exactly what work has been done.

If yours is an import car, you may want to jot down not only the original numbers for basic parts but also the conversion numbers from among the readily available domestic brands. This can be a big time saver when a crisis occurs far from a major source of auto parts.